I finally finished one side of my stamp book, 朱印帳 (shuin-cho), last time I went out to temples. I was planning on going out to see temples today as I have just finished my finals (!) but it’s raining. I thought I would show you my shuin instead. It will look even better when it’s finished but that probably won’t be for a while yet unless I step up my temple visits.
These stamps have existed in Japan for centuries and are thought to have originated as a Buddhist custom as a receipt for the donation of a sutra to the temple. Now these stamps are collected in books by pilgrims or fans of calligraphy and you can get them at both Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. This is a nice way to remember the temples you have been to.
You can get started by buying a book for the stamps (a normal notebook is not allowed) at a temple or shrine, the larger ones have beautiful designs as well as simple ones so you can buy according to your budget. Typically a book will set you back around 1000円 to 5000円 (£5.60 to £30) depending on the book. It will usually come with the temple stamp included. If you are wondering my stamp book comes from Shimogamo shrine 下賀茂神社 which is pretty close to where I live.
The stamps themselves usually cost 300円 (£1.70) but they can occasionally go up to 1000円 (£5.70) depending on the temple. It’s a fairly inexpensive hobby and adds a nice collecting element to visiting temples. Gotta collect ’em all! Perhaps this is the origin of Japanese collecting card games (Pokemon, YuGiOh etc.)
Below are all the stamps I’ve collected so far (23!). If you click on the image it will link you to the blog about the shrine. Hover for the name of the temple.
Typically the stamp will have ‘praise’ 奉拝 (hohai) written at the top right (stamps are read right to left), followed by the temple or shrine’s official name, followed by the unofficial or common name. The date will be located on the right or left, either under ‘praise’ or on the far left.
Hopefully, rain permitting, I’ll be able to get out to some temples in the next few days for some more content. My two month spring break begins now!